Incredible to believe this was first published over 20 years ago. It is still the best book on Indian interiors, and remains as fresh today as it was then. It belonged to a series of books on interiors that came out in the 1980's, put together by Suzanne Slesin & Stafford Cliff. This, along with JAPANESE STYLE, are the best of the lot (although I gather many like the Greek Style book too). I like the two, for their judicious mix of what we think of as the age old Japanese or Indian style or vernacular, with enough of more modern efforts, but at the same time completely avoiding the trendy- and in this way both books remain remarkably fresh. Nor are these books just about interiors- the emphasis in on the broadest meaning of the word 'STYLE' which has nowadays been narrowed down to just mean what is fashionable. (There is a whole page here for example, of the almost psychadelic style in which Indians decorate their lorries (trucks) and in the Japanese book details on how elegantly Japanese vendors wrap their vegetables for sale!). And this is what keeps both books from being dated. They lavish attention on landscapes, colors, people, customs. Compared to the lazy way in which 'style' books are put together these days (ususally, a bunch of photos from disparate sources, and a 'writer' to write captions below them, and voila! another 'style' book!), a lot of effort has gone into these books- not just in the printing and photographs, but in the end papers and fly leafs, and the people they have chosen to write forewards (James Ivory and Ismail Merchant write seperate ones here). I am amazed no one has enthused about this book before, although a few have for Japanese Style! (By the way, I dont agree with one of the reviewrs for the Japanese book who says the modern interions in that book have dated and are 'ghastly'. Most of the modern interiors in that one still look incredibly hip to me. The interior of a Tadao Ando house being ghastly? I dont think so!)
The photographs in this book are creditied to David Brittain (how apposite!) and he has photographed every kind of house there is in India. I mean it! From a palm leaf thatched house in Kerala, to a Maharajha's palace in Rajastan, from a mountain home in Ladakh, to a simple village home in Kutch, from Anglo-Indian bungalow's in Goa to a renovated haveli near New Delhi, to a house boat in Srinagar in Kashmir. You can tell from the photographs that these weren't snaps done in a hurry- a lot of time and effort have gone into them. How did he single-handedly do it? Amazing.
I strongly recommeend both of these books. Time is often the best judge, and no where more so than when style is concerned. By that criteria both of these books are to me, timeless.